A strange set of reports….
UPDATE: Saudi Jueting / Missing case
With ten overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arrested due to the killings of six people in Saudi Arabia,
" President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to maintain close coordination with Saudi authorities and monitor the progress of the investigation."
There are some One-point three million Filipinos working and living the KSA estimates making them the largest ethnic imported workforce in the Kingdom. Presidential Spokesman and Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, in a press release says " the Filipino public must be fully informed of the developments of the case."
The Philippine economy is greatly dependent on worker remittances to the country- "Bunye stressed the incident is highly unfortunate as it involves a heinous offense. Despite this, the Secretary expressed faith and confidence on Saudi authoritiesÃ’ capacity to conduct a fair and impartial investigation."
Many are still looking into the facts of the case- To bee uncovered" andthe Philippineee government is asking people in media to "avoid speculations."
Ã“We will exert all means to uphold truth and justice, both for the victims and the accused,Ã”
Bunye called on journalists covering the case to be mindful of limitations in the governments ability to intervene in the mater as it is a ongoing criminal investigation.
Reports coming out also pointing to Gold smuggling and illegal gambling as part of the investigation.
The numbers racket that is Jueting has for the most part been quashed in the Philippines – although reports persist of small operations still going strong in some places – Like far flung parts of central Luzon.
Its replacement- the Small Town Lottery- a legal lottery called STL creates dozens of taxable legal alternatives – But at the same time – Jueting rackets overseas…
Have come to light in the wake of a gruesome find in a mine shaft area in Saudi Arabia.
6 people were found grusomely murdered and dismembered in what KSA Police there are linking to "Jueting " ala Saudi – although all forms of gambling are tightly controlled or effectively banned in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
where there are scores of workers and a cash flow there will be rackets to keep people desperate enough to work in dessert heat and take risks abroad in a region with war raging nearby- where being a foreign worker can be a dangerous life- Some gamble further and set up "other ways" to augment income.
" Jueting " a simple lottery based game that is found in most parts of the Philippines based on combinations of two numbers drawn daily is a simple gambling lottery that can promise a small cash windfall of between 350-800 times the amount bet.
The chances of winning are small actually – as with most games of chance – odds show a cube formula of 1,879 to 1 as a ratio of hitting one number – so double that figure to hit two numbers- so who ever runs the game stands to gain large amounts of cash.
There are places overseas where OFW's and other overseas Pinoys can bet legally – in Saipan for example where Jeuting is legally run. Other parts of Micronesia also have similar set-ups to allow for cultural games of chance.
But in the KSA; setting up any form of illegal lottery- is tantamount to a state crime that could result in the death penalty or harsh prison terms. That workers in a gold mine would try this at all shows just how desperate many people are to earn and risk their lives to running a illegal lottery.
The "Jueting" export lotteries and other games of chance like – Sabong – cockfighting also have taken root where-ever Filipino communities can be found. In historic Filipino town in Los Angeles small scale "numbers rackets" do on occasion happen. In Iraq's worker bases illicit gaming rooms for off duty workers offering masons and card games also abound – little is done to stop them by the US military or Iraqi authorities who are busier with other larger problems of security. Jueting on a small scale also exists in nearly every major overseas worker area where large groups of OFW's are found.
But Jueting is based on trust – and secrecy- what happened to the six murdered victims is still unclear. The fact that they were chopped to bits could be seen as a violent reaction to a profit sharing scheme or failure to pay out winnings or an attempt to inform authorities or rival Jeuting organizations fighting over turf.
The entire incident is sometimes seen in fights over turf in the past when the Rackets kingpin's fight over territory -violence is commonly known to happen and deaths are not unheard of in the fight to control proceeds.
It will be interesting to note as this case develops what Saudi Police officials uncover. There is more to be seen here than a simple case of murder – the case could be a eye opener into the extent of organized crime groups popping up in the Middle East led by Pinoys and victimizing pinoys overseas.
The Jeuting killings comes as "The financial intelligence unit at the [KSA] Ministry of Interior has been monitoring several sources possibly offering financial support to terrorist operations in the Kingdom, press reports said ÂThe unit has received several reports of suspicious financial dealings and it is taking required measures to foil them,
The fact is also clear that rackets like Jeuting do create large amounts of cash – and – since it is highly illegal to engage in games of chance or gambling in the KSA some are wondering if the killing have come on last weeks intensified operations by Saudi police to crack down on illicit cash rackets like Jeuting "Saudi Arabia has been playing a leading role in the global campaign on combating terror financing and money laundering. The Saudi laws define as a criminal acts – money laundering, criminal activity, and, financing terrorist operations."
Counter terror – Shangri-la
It is billed as "The first Counter-Terrorism Experts Conference or (CTEC)" meaning it is the first time officials will discuss in a forum effective programs and failures in counter terrorism that are taking place all over the globe.
This is not a time to wander about Mactan Island I can imagine the security level there will be high and traffic to and from the City a bit more than usual. The conference which runs for two days – April 20th Â 22 April that the Philippine Government is hosting at the Shangrila-Mactan Island Resort, Cebu.
Well considering the guests – I guess the Pool and beach will be relatively not too crowded.
" In a press statement, conference chairambassadorr Benjamin Defensor disclosed that more than 30 countries will be joining the event in the war against terror and terrorist."
The report release by Philippine Government went on to say – "The ConferenceÂs overall theme shall ÂDefeating Dilemmas in Counter-TerrorismÂ says Philippine information agency press release to media.
"Those present will be attending workshops with five sub-themes: Strengthening the Basics; Finding a Realistic Middle Ground; Understanding Regional and Sub-Regional Approaches; Bridging the Gaps and Balancing Assistance; Paving the Middle Way."
" The CTEC program shall follow a plenary Â panel discussion format and participated in by experienced counter-terrorism practitioners, policymakers, civil society leaders, renowned scholars, and joined by guests and representatives of participating countries."
Objectives set at this time:
(a) To identify key dilemmas and difficulties in fighting terrorism from global, regional and national perspectives;
(b) To map areas of convergence in counter-terrorism efforts through exploration of strategic and practical responses which address peculiar causes and conditions, harmonize CT capacity-building, and allow states to sustain peace and development strategies while prosecuting the war on terror;
(c) To come up with a declaration, establishing the common counter-terrorism position of experts, particularly the Âmiddle wayÂ for those that live with and take direct responsibility for dealing with the threat.
I'll post updates and information on this as I'm covering the events – albeit from a distance.
Erap-tions back on air…
Estrada who is currently held in custody will be allowed to speak out on national issues starting today anew say court officials so long as he doesn't discuss his pending case plunder which he is on trail for at the Philippines Sandigan Bayan. (anti-graft court)
I covered Estrada a few times – he always was a fun interview and I had lunch with him and his wife in San Juan many years back when he was vice president, he donated a set of police motorcycles to the Palawan at the time.
Aside from this Estrada did visit Palawan a few times I covered him then when I was still based there. I always enjoyed interviews I did with him – mostly he's been jovial and direct.
I have seen his unfriendly side once… But that was a situation I'd rather forget and all just part of the job we jounrno's go through it all worked out anyway in the end.
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